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I wish I would have gotten to know my aunt better before her onset of Alzheimer's.
There are so many questions I wish I could have asked her before she lost her memory. She is 99 years old and will be 100 on Christmas Eve. My mom died when I was 15, and my aunt stepped in to help my dad with me —I was a very rambunctious child, to say the least. After a few years I moved in with her and we became quite close. I later wound up moving down to Louisiana and we grew apart, although I did call her every Sunday for years. She helped put my kids in private school, and if I ever needed anything she was always there to help.
A little over three years ago, her Alzheimer’s really started to affect her. She no longer could hold a conversation on the phone and started not knowing who I was. My brothers were starting to talk about nursing homes. But there was no way I would ever let that happen! You see, I went to nursing school but unfortunately no longer work due to a stroke I suffered in 2010. Thankfully I have regained back most of the use of my right side, but I no longer work as a nurse. But with my training and the abilities I still have, I am able to care for my aunt and have made a commitment to do so until she passes. My aunt took care of her mother who also suffered from Alzheimer’s and ultimately died from this dreadful disease. I remember her telling me she would never consider placing her mom in a home, and I told her I would be here if she ever needed me. And here I am.
My aunt was somewhat of a hoarder who saved everything. All the drawers in her house are full of junk, and I've started to slowly go through them. My aunt didn't have any children, so she is leaving her house to my two brothers and me. I so wish I could talk to her about some of the things I'm finding. Some of the things I found include love letters from her husband to her— so romantic and sweet. But she doesn't even remember him. Half the time she doesn't know who I am. It's heartbreaking to watch her slowly deteriorate before my eyes. I just wish I could sit down and talk to her. It truly does break my heart. I love my aunt and miss her terribly.
This article was written by myALZteam member Lisa Hoder as part of a Member Spotlight Series. Lisa is 58 years old and a caregiver for her aunt who has Alzheimer's disease.
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